These names conjurer up many PHOTOS, but puny is not one of them. In order to pull off the role of Superman, actor Henry Cavill worked with Mark Twight at Gym Jones design a 6-month, super-intense workout to help him pack on the mass.
Putting the “Super” in Superman
Henry Cavill worked with Mark Twight, a world-class climber who started Gym Jones in 2004. Gym Jones is an exclusive invite-only gym that trains athletes, military personnel, and well, superheroes. It’s best known for working with the cast and stunt crew of the movie “300” to whip them into the fighting shape worthy of a Spartan phalanx. A recent quote from the website gives you an idea of Twight’s approach to training:
“Gym Jones is not a cozy place. There are no televisions, no machines, no comfortable spot to sit . Effort and pain may not be avoided. Physical and psychological breakdowns occur.”
Henry was already shredded from filming Immortals, but to don the cape, Henry Cavill had to bulk up and gain significant mass to fill the role of the Man of Steel.
“I’m training two-and-a-half hours a day, pushing my body beyond its normal limits, putting on a lot of muscle mass and just making myself look like Superman,” Cavill told Shortlist magazine. “I did two months training on my own and four months training in Los Angeles with Mark, and that was excruciating – breaking boundaries I didn’t know I could. I remember one moment, doing some horrible rowing sprint thing, and I said, ‘I can’t do this Mark, I can’t, I’m done,’ and he said, ‘No you’re not, don’t listen to the lies.’ I kept on pulling and pulling until suddenly I realised I had finished.”
“Mark Twight, the chap from Gym Jones, has been putting me through the ringer big time.” Cavill adds. “…an example of the sort of workouts we’ve been doing recently? A couple of weeks ago it was 100 front squats in body weight. We’ve been quite fond of doing the 100 repetition stuff recently and heavy as well. I’m trying to think of the other good stuff. But generally, the guys work out with me now.”
“And so, we all have a bit of fun doing it as well. For example, if Mike Levins, who’s the assistant trainer, Mark Twight, and myself are training, we’ll just do 10 reps of a weight and then someone drops out, they do 10, someone drops out, they do 10. By the time the third person’s finished their set, you come in and do your 10, up to 100. Otherwise, training stuff, I mean, it’s huge amounts of kettle bell workouts. Does anyone know, has anyone sort of been through a strict training program before?”
In the video Henry Cavill shares his experience training with Mark Twight, as he made his own personal transformation to portraying the Man of Steel. Zack Snyder, Antje Traue, and Mark Twight also weigh in on the value of pushing yourself over the limit and being selflessly dedicated to building a stronger mind and body.
The Henry Cavill Superman workout program
Gym Jones is keeping the exact workout Henry Cavill followed an understandable secret. Mark Twight believes in a personalized approach – a program with periodization modulating volume and intensity over the course of multi-month training cycles. We know it would not be your typical 4×10 gym-rat workout. A Crossfit-type workout gets closer, with it’s “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement,” but it would need to geared towards greater mass gain.
To approximate Henry Cavill’s Superman workout, we suggest the following programs:
Option 1: A Crossfit football program
Crossfit football is a modified Crossfit program geared to great strength and mass. It combines high intensity movements with a comprehensive strength and speed program.
A typical Crossfit Football workout week looks like this:
Monday: Lift 10,000 lbs as fast as possible using only one rep of the following:
- 1 Squat
- 1 Press
- 1 Deadlift
* You can use any weight on the lifts and it can be done in any amount of rounds. You can only do one rep at a time and must cycle through all three lifts to complete one round.
* The goal is to lift 10,000 lbs as fast as possible.
- 8 x 50 yard
- Rest 60 seconds
Thursday: As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes:
- 7 DB Bent Over Rows
- 7 DB Power Cleans
- 7 DB Push Presses
* Use 50lb dumbells
Friday: Complete 5 rounds:
You have 60 seconds to complete the following…
- 20 KB Swings – 2 pood
- Sprint 60 yards
* Rest 2 minutes between rounds.
Saturday: As many rounds as possible in 9 minutes of:
- 3 Back Squats 225 lbs
- 6 Pull Ups
- 9 Push Ups
Monday: Complete 2 rounds:
- 1 minute – Max Rep 50 lbs DB Push Press
- Rest 1 minute
- 1 minute – Max Rep 50 lbs Weighted Pull Ups
- Rest 1 minute
- 1 minute – Row for Calories
- Rest 1 minute
- 1 minute – Max Rep Burpees
* Rest 1 minute between rounds.
This is just an example week, every week will bring additional challenges and workouts. Running a high-intensity program like this with a clean mass-gain nutrition regiment (below) should give you Super results. To learn more about CrossFit Football, visit Crossfit Football.
Option 2: The Juggernaut Method
The Juggernaut Method was created by Chad Wesley Smith, owner and head Performance Coach at Juggernaut Training Systems in Laguna Hills, CA. It is a peroidized program divided into 4 waves (reps of 10’s, 8’s, 5’s and 3’s). Each wave is subdivided into three phases: accumulation, intensification, realization. Each workout also has a few crossfit-type athletic routines thrown in – box jumps, sprints and tire flips.
Since the program is geared for strength and mass, it’s designed around four big lifts: Bench Press, Squat, Military Press and Deadlift.
An example day with the Juggernaught method could look like this:
Bench (300 max)
Warm-up complex (jump rope, arm swings, foam roller)
- 180 lbs x 3
- 200 x 3
- 210 x 8, 8, As many as possible
- DB rows 5×10
- Dips 3×15
- Box Jumps
This is just one day of a phase and should only be used as an example – in this case this workout would be after several weeks of accumulation.
The peroidization and big lifts in the Juggernaut Method get us closer to the Man of Steel workout. Throw in some extra skill and performance work like box jumps and bear crawls and you have something that should pack on pounds of supermass if you watch your nutrition.
If you are at all interested in a program like this, I highly recommend you go over and buy The Juggernaut Method 2.0 book – it’s over 100 pages and outlines everything you need to build a comprehensive program around these principals.
One thing Mark Twight has talked about is something he throws in at the end of a workout–the tailpipe. This is a tag-team workout designed to work to exhaustion and teach correct breathing technique. Ideally you should have a partner, but if not, you can time your rows and hold the kettlebells for as long as the 250m takes you.
Tailpipe (at the end of the workout)
- Row 250m
- Hold two 24kg kettlebells in the ‘rack’ position while focusing on breathing
- Rest 45 seconds. Swap places with your partner, then repeat until you’ve done three rows and three racks.
Why tailpipe? “When you’re done,” Twight explained, “it feels like you’ve been sucking on the tailpipe of a car.”
The Superman diet
Henry Cavill, the new Man of Steel, admitted to having a diet plan that made him have a daily intake of at least five thousand calories. He consumed several protein-rich meal replacement drinks per day to make up his calories. This included a post workout shake that could contain coconut milk, peanut butter, maltodextrin and whey protein.
“Mark Twight, the chap from Gym Jones, has been putting me through the ringer big time. Two hours a day on a mix of calories depending on what sort of work we’re doing. We started off at about 3,000 a day plus shake.”
“That’s about 3,500. But, two hours of work and then we moved up to 4,000 and then up to 5,000 calories. Now, we’ve dropped down to about 3,500 while we’re doing an hour’s training every morning because if I keep that high calorie intake I’m going to start putting on fat weight, but if I drop too low I’m going to start losing all the new muscle I’ve gained. But, an example of the sort of workouts we’ve been doing recently?
A caloric cycle for mass should focus on clean, high quality protein and good fat. Avoid simple sugars and junk eating like fast food to make up calories. A sample program could run like this:
Weeks 1-2: 3,500 calories including 1-2 MRP shakes per day
Weeks 3-6: 3,500 calories including 1-2 MRP shakes per day
Weeks 7-8: 4,000 calories including 1-2 MRP shakes per day
Weeks 9-10: 5,000 calories including 2-3 MRP shakes per day
Weeks 11-12: 3,500 calories including 1-2 MRP shakes per day
Sample 3,500 calorie Man of Steel diet:
5 egg whites
½ cup oats
1 cup brown rice
1 chicken breast
1 cup broccoli
6 oz tuna
2 slices wheat bread
PWO shake (probably just water/whey)
and maybe a pear for carbs here
|Meal Four (chicken wrap)
1 large 10″ flour tortilla
1 6-oz. chicken breast
½ cup lettuce (chopped)
½ tomato (diced)
|Meal Five (shake + potato)
8 oz milk
1 cup oats
1 scoop whey
2 tbsp pb
1 cup cottage cheese
small yogurt mixed with CC for flavor
Sample 5,000 calorie Man of Steel diet:
56 grams Protein powder
3 cups Milk (low fat)
2 cups Cereal, cold
2 cups Blueberries
6 tbsp Almonds, slivered
1/2 cup Cottage cheese (light / low fat)
56 grams Protein powder
2 cups Grapes
3 tbsp Barley
1 1/5 oz Sunflower seeds
4 1/2 oz Chicken breast
4 oz Cheese (low or non fat)
4 cups Vegetable soup
3 whole Pita
49 grams Protein powder
1 1/2 cups Yogurt (plain and low fat)
1 1/2 tbsp Barley
3 tbsp Almonds, slivered
1 tsp Olive, Flax, Hemp or Salmon Oils
11 oz Beef (lean cuts)
4 cups Cauliflower
2 cups Rice
6 tbsp Almonds
1 1/3 cups Fruit juice
11 oz Turkey (breast, skinless)
2 cups Chickpeas
1 cup Mushrooms
1/4 cup Onions
1 head Lettuce
3 cups Cherry tomatoes
6 tbsp Almonds
That’s alot of eating. “I’m on 5000 calories a day… You’ve got to eat protein first, then a little bit of carbs… you’ve gotta keep your hunger levels going,” Henry Cavill says, “I’m training two and a half hours a day, pushing my body beyond its normal limits, putting on a lot of muscle mass and just making myself look like Superman.”
Nobody said being the Man of Steel would be easy.
Henry comes from a huge male family. He has four brothers, three of whom are much older than he is.
His mother, Marianne, was a house mum for years taking care of five boys, and now works as a secretary in a bank. “My mother is such an incredibly strong woman,” Henry says. “She raised a family of five boys extremely well. She made us all strong, loving, caring people. We all support each other. I’m really thankful to her.” His father, Colin Cavill, served in the Navy, then was a stockbroker, but keeps shifting jobs. Oh, and his parents are together.
As for Henry’s brothers, Piers, the eldest, is a former army officer, Nick is a major in the Royal Marines, Simon has just started working in financial services, and Charlie, the youngest, is in marketing.
As you can see, the family has a vast military background. Henry was going to join Army himself, but acting proved a stronger appeal. His brothers mock him for it, of course, “saying that I’m a soft actor who’s never worked a day in his life. That kind of thing. Then they come to the set and see the kind of work I do and change their mind…”
His daily life
Nowadays Henry lives in South Kensington, London, wherever he’s working, but his “home base is always the Isle of Jersey,” he says.
“I’m certainly very used to being away from home. That’s not a problem for me anymore, although it was a big problem when I was away at boarding school. I was terribly homesick. But I still stand by what my parents did. Sometimes it gets a little tiring, and I want to have a family in the future, so it’ll be nice to have something steadier.”
However he doesn’t fear being in a strange place. He tries to immerse himself in the culture wherever he is, learn the language and enjoy the newness of it.
Henry likes to go out to clubs and bars. His favorite spot is the Wellington Club in London. It’s a restaurant and a nightclub which he visits regularly. Henry tries to suggest places not involving alcohol, which is hard in a city like London where the pleasure of drinking is cultural. “Hyde Park is the place that you cannot miss. There’s a fantastic pub in Kensington called the Builders’ Arms and The Prince Regent is a nice place for a drink.”
Henry is a huge fan of rugby. He even played growing up, but no longer plays due to some nagging injurie.
He enjoys watching the History Channel and National Geographic and shows like Dexter and Battlestar Galactica. Henry loves to play the online multi-player game of World of Warcraft and Eve Online, thanks to which Henry stays in contact with his father and his brothers when they are in the four corners of the world. “That’s something I’ve gotten quite sucked into.”
But his other passion, more adult perhaps, is his superb silver Aston Martin DBS like the one used in the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. “It was one of those things that just ended up happening, like, ‘Right, okay, just treat yourself.’” Also a few times in 2012, Henry took part in Speed Festivals in England as a passenger or even a driver of the new McLaren 12C.
Henry is a very private person. Even on the set of Immortals, where everyone is caught up in the intense tribal life that is required for a cast making a battle-heavy action film, Henry was a bit elusive.
“I have to say I still don’t know the guy too well, and it’s kind of strange. I usually know more about people after I work with them. He’s very quiet and to himself. He’s very nice, but I got to know everyone else, but not him,” Stephen Dorff said.
“I’m very keen on my private life remaining private. I don’t want to be too open and give everything away to reporters,” Henry explains.
With the itinerant lifestyle of an actor, Henry has had trouble holding down a relationship. “It takes a strong woman to be with me because I’m always hopping around, and not always there. It’s really tough.”
Henry Cavill is not married at the moment, but in May 2011, he was engaged to English equestrian Ellen Whitaker. Their relationship didn’t last long, and the engagement was called off. Since August 2012 Henry has been dating actress Gina Carano.
* * *
Once Henry let us into his cherished three wishes: “For my family to be fully content and happy with life, to have a wonderful marriage and to be happy and successful myself.”
As for where he sees himself in five years, “In an ideal world, I’d find the woman of my dreams and be married. But isn’t that everyone’s perfect plan?”